Ox cheeks are one of those meat cuts which for so long have been ignored. Thank goodness their wonderful, gelatinous meat is finally being realised once more. The very nature of the cheek makes it perfect for long slow cooking, producing a rich, flavoursome and extremely tender meat.
Prepare the ox cheek casserole below, leave it to cook then gently break up the meat for your cottage pie. Top with fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes and I love leeks served alongside . 'Viola!' a super-delicious alternative to the regular version.
I know this looks like a lot of work, believe me; it isn't, as once assembled leave the stew to slow-cook, you do not need to stand over it.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 pound ox cheeks
- 3 large shallots (peeled and diced)
- 3 large garlic cloves (peeled and halved)
- 2 medium leeks (trimmed, cleaned, and roughly sliced)
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 pints beef stock (hot and dark)
- 4 large carrots (peeled and cut into large chunks)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 pounds potatoes (peeled and quartered)
- 6 tablespoons milk
- 4 ounces butter (cubed)
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 150° C / 300°F/ gas 2
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Dry the ox cheeks with a paper towel. Season with a little salt and pepper, then place carefully into the hot oil. Brown for 4 minutes on both sides.
- Remove the cheeks from the pan and place into an ovenproof casserole dish (or a slow cooker if you have one). Keep the frying pan on the heat, add the shallots, garlic and leeks. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Remove the vegetables and place in the casserole with the cheeks.
- Keeping the same pan on the heat, add the wine, bring to a boil and reduce by two-thirds. Sprinkle the flour over the hot wine and whisk with a hand whisk thoroughly to create a thick paste. Continue whisking and slowly add the hot stock. Boil for one minute then pour over the beef and vegetables. Finally add the carrot chunks and the bay leaf.
- Place the casserole dish in the oven, cover with a lid and cook slowly for at least 2 hours or until the cheeks are cooked and starting to fall apart, this could take up to 4 hours depending on the toughness of the meat. Look at the stew from time to time to make sure it hasn't boiled dry, top up with the remaining beef stock as needed.
- While the stew is cooking, boil the potatoes until soft then drain into a colander. Place the milk and butter in the pan used to boil the potatoes, return to the heat and warm gently until the butter has melted. Add the potatoes and mash. Season to taste and keep to one side.
- Once the stew is cooked heat the oven to 190°C/ 375°F/Gas 5.
- Place the casserole to one side, carefully lift out the cheeks and place on a large plate. Using a fork, gently pull the meat apart, it should fall into meaty shreds.Keep to one side. Using a slotted spoon, remove all the vegetables from the sauce and keep to one side/
- Check the sauce in the casserole, it should be thickish, if too thin, place back on the heat on the top of the stove and cook to reduce to t thickish sauce (about 15 minutes). Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper for taste.
- Place the meat sauce into an 20cm X 7cm / 8"X 3" deep ceramic or glass ovenproof dish. Place the meat and the vegetables from the sauce into the dish. Cover with the mashed potato. Season the surface of the potato with salt and black pepper, dot with a little soft butter or a little grated cheese (optional).
- Bake in the heated oven for 30 - 35 mins until the surface is crisp and browned. Serve immediately.
|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Total Fat||23 g|
|Saturated Fat||11 g|
|Unsaturated Fat||9 g|
|Dietary Fiber||8 g|